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After facing some tough company in the Open ranks, Royal Mistress got some class relief last week and responded with a solid harness racing victory for James Kennedy. She's back with the Open group on Friday night at Cal Expo Harness. The 6-year-old Canadian import is owned by Kevin Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and was winning for the third time in the five appearances since she joined forces with Kennedy. "She's got a big heart and a real good finish," James related when asked about the mare. "I really appreciate Gordie giving me so many live drives." The first two teamings with Royal Mistress resulted in victories in conditioned company, then she stepped up to the Open ranks for her next two starts and had to settle for minor awards behind divisional leaders Alwaysalittlemore and Virgin Eyes. "Those are a couple of real nice mares and she did have some poor cover the first time she raced at that level," her pilot noted. Returning to conditioned competition for last week's assignment, Royal Mistress was dispatched as the 9-5 choice and left little doubt, coming first over on the backside and going on to a clear-cut decision. "It really wasn't the plan to come out that soon, but the leader really backed up the pace and I didn't have much choice," Kennedy said. "She was awfully strong that night and just kept going." Alwaysalittlemore, Virgin Eyes do battle Alwaysalittlemore, who is seeking her third straight victory; and Virgin Eyes, who has been her most immediate victim in those last two outings, head the cast for Friday night's featured $5,600 Filly and Mare Open Pace. There will be 12 races presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. There will also be a trio of California Sire Stakes for 4-year-olds to be decided as non-betting races prior to the regular card. Alwaysalittlemore is a 6-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin who races for Maria Alvarez and Terrence Smith, takes her lessons from Edward Hernandez and will once again have Luke Plano at the helm. The bay mare went a lifetime-best 1:52 3/5 mile when taking the measure of an Open II field on January 18, then came back last week and every pole a winning one in the Open, holding safe by a half-length over Virgin Eyes. The latter is a dark-hued 5-year-old mare who carries the banner of Aleksandra Karl with Jacob Fox doing the driving and training. She has been runner-up in her last three appearances, completing the exacta behind Alwaysalittlemore in the last pair. Completing the cast are Brighten Your Life with James Marshall IV; Dancingonthesand, Mooney Svendsen; Shock N Awe with Nick Roland; Royal Mistress, James Kennedy; and Brian's Magic Girl, who leave from the cozy rail slot with Gerry Longo. By Mark Ratzky, for Cal Expo Harness  

A pair of contentious Open Paces; the $8,600 Shelly Goudreau Final and the $8,000 Joe Lighthill Trot at an extended mile and one-half headline an excellent program at Cal Expo on Saturday night An 11-race harness racing card is set to kick off at 6:10 p.m., with the Lighthill going as the fourth event; the Filly and Mare Open follows in the next spot; the Open Pace occupies the seventh-race slot and the Goudreau Final will be the ninth event on the evening. Urgointohearmeroar will be looking to account for his third series final at the meet in the Goudreau. A 4-year-old son of Mystery Chase, Urgointohearmeroar has already captured the Bill Conlin and Robert Gordon Finals at this stand and looms a very heavy favorite once again. Owned by Mark Anderson, trained by Gordie Graham and with Mooney Svendsen in the sulky, he has been unbeatable this season while going off the prohibitive choice on each occasion. Urgointohearmeroar faced his biggest challenge in last week's outing in the Goudreau Prep, leaving from the second tier in the overflow cast. He was parked first-over at the half, then dug in determinedly to prevail by a neck that evening. It was certainly a blanket finish, with the first four across the wire separated by only three-quarters of a length in that 1:54 flat mile, but the others figure to have their work cut out Saturday with Urgointohearmeroar having the rail draw this time around. The two Opens are both very contentious events with Bettor In The Bank assigned the outside post in the male division and stablemates Capitol Hill and Outrageousdelightn getting the outside slots in the Distaff end. Low takeout wagers offer true value There are two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16% takeout rate - the 50-cent Pick 5, which begins on the first race; and the 20-cent Pick 4. There are guaranteed pools for the Pick 4, with a $30,000-guaranteed gross pool on Fridays and a $40,000 guarantee on Saturdays. To give you some idea of the added value, last Saturday night's Pick 5 returned a very nice $4,562 for each winning 50-cent ticket. Using normal takeout, the payoff would have been $4,073 a difference of $489 per ducket.   By Mark Ratzky Cal Expo Harness  

Hi Ho Houdini may have gotten off to a late start, not making his first trip to the post until December, but he's certainly making up for lost time having won six of his seven starts with sights set squarely on Sunday's Sire Stakes for the harness racing 4-year-old pacing males. The son of Hi Ho Silverheel's, who races for Lujuanna Lopez, takes his lessons from Gordie Graham and is regularly piloted by Luke Plano, was an impressive winner of the first stakes dance of the season for the division a month ago and has captured the Marvin Shapiro and a conditioned event in the interim. "It's a dream come true to have a horse like this," Lopez related. "This is beyond what I could have ever hoped for with Hi Ho Houdini." Lopez , who currently has five horses, first became involved with the sport when she was rescuing horses some nine years ago and started to meet members of the harness racing community. "The more people I met, the more interested I became," she explained. Lujuanna's farm was home to the Park Place mare Holls Park Place while she was carrying Hi Ho Houdini, so she has been involved with the pacer from the very beginning. "He's quite the athlete, but he can also be very mischievous," she noted. "The day he was born, that night there was a ruckus coming from the barn and I went out with my rifle, thinking it might be a fox or a coyote. It turned out he was he was racing back and fourth and it was causing Holls Park Place to throw a fit." At the moment, the only ones who are throwing a fit are Hi Ho Houdini's rivals. Sire Stakes, pair of Opens head marquee A $10,000 California Sire Stakes for the 4-year-old pacers featuring Hi Ho Houdini and Uringoodhands; an Open Trot headed by Northern Stormont and an Open Pace featuring I'm An Athlete head the Sunday program at Cal Expo. There will be 12 races presented by Watch and Wager LLC and the action gets under way at 5:05 p.m. The Open Pace is the third event on the evening, the Open Trot occupies the sixth-race slot and the Sire Stakes goes as the eighth race. In the first stakes dance for the 4-year-old males one month ago, Uringoodhands was the 1-5 favorite , but it was Hi Ho Houdini who prevailed while turning in a lifetime best 1:53 1/5 performance with a sparkling :26 3/5 final quarter. Uringoodhands is a Kent's On Nuke homebred who races for Mark Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will be guided by James Kennedy. Hi Ho Houdini is another Graham trainee who represents Lujuanna Lopez with Luke Plano once again handling the lines. Since that Sire Stakes score, Hi Ho Houdini has added two more victories, including a handy decision in the Marvin Shapiro Pace two weeks ago. Sent off the 1-9 favorite in that contest, came out late on the final bend, took command early in the drive and went on to a two-length score. Suiting up for a conditioned affair last week, the sharp performer once again rewarded the chalkplayers to the tune of $4 as did the track-and-attack to perfection for Plano and won going away by two and a quarter lengths. Taking on this dynamic duo, from the rail out: Lodi Machete Man from the Pierre Girard barn; the Vickie Desomer-conditioned Musician, Sounion for Edwin Quevado; the Sal Wenceslao-trained Laissezmoipicoler and Hi Ho's Little Rev from Bob Johnson's shedrow. By Mark Ratzky, Publicity - Cal Expo Harness

Last Sunday evening was one to remember for both driver Eddie Hernandez and the Sal Wenceslao-trained Laissezmoipicoler, as they recorded the first wins of their respective careers in the eighth race at Cal Expo. The icing on the cake came 47 minutes later in the nightcap, when Hernandez guided Lasissezmoipicolers full brother Laissez Moi Passer to victory, once again posing for pictures with owner/breeders Sal and Georgette Wenceslao. The Wenceslao performers are by Disco Devil out of the Nirvana mare My Passing Fancy. Laissez Moi Passer, who set his 1:52 2/5 mark this summer at Vernon Downs, was winning for the seventh time this year, while his younger brother was getting the job done for the first time after 12 previous attempts. I was so happy for Eddie, said Sal, noting that he has also had success with Hernandez younger brother William. Ive known him for a lot of years and it was special to get two wins the other night with him driving. Wenceslao had high hopes for Laissezmoipicoler before he made his debut last year, especially in light of his older brother being an accomplished Sire Stakes hero. He admits its been a work in progress. Its just been a matter of his maturing and putting it all together, which hes starting to do, his mentor noted. I actually took him with me to New York over the summer and qualified him, but after looking at the competition I figured it would too much for him and it was better to let him grow a little. Laissezmoipicolor gave an indication of things to come when he set the pace in his November 22 outing, then kept the momentum going in last weeks diploma earner as he made every pole a winning one at 6-1 with two and a half-lengths back to his nearest competitor. Not to be outdone, his older brother countered in the finale. Main event lures At Last, Quality Sport At Last, who has used his patented late charge to win two of his last three appearances, gets the top billing in Saturday nights $6,000 Open I Handicap Pace. There will be 12 races on tap with a first post of 6:15 p.m. The headliner is set to go as the ninth on the evening with a field of seven facing starter Ken Fowler. There will be also be an Open Handicap Trot headed by Jessesjo to be decided as the third contest on the evening. At Last is a 9-year-old Florida-bred son of Western Ideal who comes into this assignment with $196,000 in his bank account and a 1:52 1/5 mark. He carries the banner of Mark Anderson, resides in the Gordie Graham barn and will be handled by Mooney Svendsen. The hard-hitting veteran recorded his first win of the meet when he flew home at 22-1 to captured a conditioned affair on November 14 with Chip Lackey at the controls. After missing by a neck to Im Real Good at next asking, he returned to his winning ways in the top dance for the pacing set last weekend. Sent off 3-1 with Svendsen in the sulky, At Last trained the field until the stretch, exploded when the question was asked in the stretch and won going away by a length and a quarter in a 1:54 1/5 tour. Quality Sport was his most immediate victim that evening and comes into the feature having posed for pictures following two of his last four outings. Ron and Tammy Wells own the son of Sportsmaster with Steve Wiseman reining and training. Like At Last, Quality Sports victories at this meeting have come from off the pace and at juicy 9-1 and 10-1 odds. He was first over in last weeks try, finished well but could not contain At Last when push came to shove while finishing clear of the rest in another solid mile. By Mark Ratzky, Publicity Cal Expo Harness

Jessesjo has turned in two big efforts at this harness racing meeting following a 17-month layoff, finishing second to El Azteca on both occasions, but wont have that rival to worry about when he suits up for Sundays featured Open II Trot. Jessesjo is an 8-year-old son of Jailhouse Jesse who is owned by Mark Anderson and races out of the Gordie Graham barn. He has really impressed his veteran pilot Chip Lackey, who had never sat behind the trotter before his October 24 qualifier. I was told he was returning from an injury and a long layoff and to see how he finished, Lackey related. I have to tell you, Ive driven some very nice trotters, but Ive never had one give me the acceleration he did in that qualifier. After easily capturing a second qualifier, Jessesjo has completed the exacta behind course-loving El Azteca in two clashes at the head of the class. He actually showed the way to deep stretch before getting collared in their meeting two weeks ago, then sat the pocket behind that rival at most recent asking through some pedestrian fractions and once again had to be happy with second money. He made a little break at the start in that first race, but it was mostly my fault because I tried to rush him away from there, Chip explained. Last time, I took a little hold for the first few steps to let him settle and he was away perfectly. El Azteca, who was leaving from the assigned No. 10 post for the second straight time, was able to make the top by the half in a crawling 1:01 for Luke Plano, with the pocket-sitting Jessesjo trying hard but unable to cut into the margin in the stretch. We got bottled up and never really got a clear shot, and he did come home in :26 and change, Lackey said. You cant ask for more than that. Open II Trot getting marquee treatment Jessesjo, who has raced in the shadow of El Azteca in his first two appearances at this stand, looms the solid favorite in Sunday nights featured Open II Trot. There will be a 10-race program presented under the Watch and Watch LLC banner with the headliner going as the sixth event. First post will be 6:10 p.m. Jessesjo is an 8-year-old son of Jailhouse Jesse who comes into this assignment with $236,000 in his bank account and a 1:53 4/5 career standard. He will be making his third start since returning for 17-month layoff. Mark Anderson owns, he hails from the Gordie Graham barn and Chip Lackey will once again do the honors. In both his local tries he has completing the exacta behind El Azteca in solid efforts. He showed the way into the stretch in the first of those match-ups but was unable to contain the winner, then sat a pocket trip after being used early in their last meeting and could not overtake the favorite while holding off the rest. Flameon will give the Mark Anderson/Gordie Graham team two strong looks at the outcome Pat Galbraith handling the lines. The Angus Hall homebred took the measure of conditioned company two weeks ago, then put in a good mile to be third behind El Azteca and his stablemate in last weeks Open I Handicap event. Franks Best comes into Sundays main event with $230,000 in earnings and he has several Sire Stakes trophies on his mantle. Bob Johnson owns, trains and bred the son of Armbro Scribe and Mooney Svendsen will be in his usual spot in the sulky. Completing the field are Franky Provolone, who is making his second start on the comeback trail with Steve Wiseman guiding; and a pair from the Marissa Tyler barn in Claim Jumper and Quantum Uptown Boy. By Mark Ratzky, publicity Cal Expo Harness

A pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes and the Terry Kelly Memorial Distaff Open Pace are the main events on Sunday evenings program at Cal Expo. There will be 12 races Sunday and the action gets underway at 4:55 p.m. The Sire Stakes go as the third and fifth events on the card, while the Distaff Open is slated for the fourth race. Speak English is the one to beat in the Sire Stakes for the pacing fillies with two big-money victories to her credit in as many starts for owner/breeder Frank Nevarez, trainers Gordie Graham and pilot Tim Maier. She was 15-1 when she made her debut in the March 15 stakes gathering and went a powerful, first-over mile to prevail by two and three-quarter lengths that night. It was another game victory for Speak English in the most recent Sire Stakes two weeks, recorded a three-quarters of a length tally while lowering her mark to 1:55 2/5 in the process. Smash was her most immediate victim in that affair and has three stakes trophies on her mantle, with the most recent coming by five lengths on March 1. The homebred daughter of Little Steven races for Junior Wilkinson and Billie Schwartz, is conditioned by Wilkinson and will once again have Luke Plano at the helm. Taking on this pair are Pips Valentina and Little Cher Amo from the George Reider shedrow; the Bob Johnson-trained Avila Beach; and Could Be Dancing, who takes her lessons from Junior Wilkinson. Sandys Song has made a clean sweep of the first six Sire Stakes for the sophomore trotters. Hank Wieseneck owns the daughter of Claudius Augustus with Bob Johnson training and Steve Wiseman handling the lines. She will be challenged by Zoeys Delight, Cadet, Dougs Hobby Horse and JK Journey. Reduced takeout wagers spice up the action Fans are reminded that there are four bets offered here each night that come with a reduced 16% takeout rate, including the 10-cent Jackpot 6 that returned a cool $65,456 on March 21. The other wagers with lower takeout are the Hi-5, which like the Jackpot 6 has a 10-cent minimum; the 50-cent Pick 5; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $25,000-guaranteed pool as part of the USTA Strategic Wagering Program. Speaking of the Hi-5, last Saturdays nitecap saw the two favorites both making breaks and the result was healthy prices filling out those first five positions. Each winning 10-cent ticket was worth a nice $15,790. To put the reduced takeout in perspective, using the normal takeout rate, that ticket would have returned $14,098, a difference of $1,692 a copy. ........................................... Love Live Laugh, who has spent much of the latter stages of this meet dealing with the likes of Show Runner and Part Time Lady, escapes the long shadow of those rivals in Sundays co-featured Filly-Mare Open Pace. The Denise Maier owned-and-trained, Tim Maier-driven daughter of Hi Ho Silverheels got her most recent snapshot on February 7 at this level in a powerful performance and was assigned the outside slot for this assignment with a couple of the big guns now missing from the line-up. Rag Doll has been runner-up in her last two starts at this level and leaves just inside Love Live Laugh with Mooney Svendsen guiding for owners Larry and Carol Parlin and conditioner Lino Pacheco. She scored back-to-back victories with softer company in her previous two appearances and set her 1:54 mark earlier in this session. By Mark Ratzky, publicity Cal Expo Harness

It took him 12 stabs and he waited until the last big dance, but Tony Cheesecake got his overdue stakes trophy last weekend with harness racing driver James Kennedy in the sulky behind the Junior Wilkinson trainee. Coming into the final Sire Stakes for the 4-year-old pacing males, the Little Steven homebred had racked up a second, a third and nine fourth-place finishes while taking on the likes of Rikybrnthegaragdwn and King Of The Crop, but he showed revenge is a dish best served cold with last Saturdays score. It was really a case of his not being quite as good as a few of those pacers up until this year, related Wilkinson, who co-owns Tony Cheesecake with Billie Schwartz and David Rachford. Hed even been favored a couple of times in those stakes, which kind of surprised me, and he had to settle for minor awards on those nights. Hes a better horse now, and it certainly helped that he got a great trip. Kennedy left into the garden spot behind odds-on King Of The Crop, was able to sit behind a spirited duel with that rival and Rickybrnthegaragdwn, then came a sizzling :26 3/5 final quarter to post the 10-1 upset and earn his initial stakes decision in the last scheduled added-money event for this division. The one thing I told James was we couldnt be on the front end, Wilkinson explained. He was able to float out of there and drop into a perfect spot and got the trip. I have a lot of respect for the other horses, but it was his night. Tony Cheesecake is an example of that old adage if you dont succeed at first, try, try again. Sire Stakes, Open Pace and Trot featured A $10,000 California Sire Stakes for sophomore pacing males that matches Uringoodhands and Hi Hos Little Rev; an Open Trot headed by El Azteca; and a contentious Open Pace are the main events on Saturdays 14-race Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo. Uringoodhands is a homebred son of Kents On Nuke out the Surmo Hanover mare Sparks Will Fly who is owned by Mark Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will once again have James Kennedy at the controls. The dark-hued performer has accounted for three of the four stakes races decided for this group, the most recent coming in coast-to-coast fashion on February 28 as the 1-5 choice. He prevailed by a neck that night over the pocket-sitting Hi Hos Little Rev while equaling his mark with the 1:55 1/5 clocking. Hi Hos Little Rev has a stakes trophy and has been runner-up in the other three big-money dances. Vanessa Gilliam owns the son of Hi Ho Silverheels with Bob Johnson the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen handling the lines. He held off Uringoodhands by a neck in the January 17 stakes clash. Completing the field are Laissezmoipocouler, who leaves from the cozy rail slot with Williams Hernandez; Sounion, who has the services of Tim Maier; Lodi Machette Man for Pierre Girard; and Musician with Luke Plano. *********** Saturdays card features a $57,226 carryover in the Jackpot 6. The Jackpot 6 is a 10-cent minimum bet and is one of four wagers on the program with a reduced 16% takeout rate. The other reduced takeout wagers are the Hi-5, which is conducted on the final race and like the Jackpot 6 is a 10-cent minimum; the 50-cent Pick 5; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $25,000-guaranteed pool. By Mark Ratzky, Publicity Cal Expo Harness

Saturday nights Cal Expo harness racing program features a $53,142 carryover in the 10-cent Jackpot 6, meaning one ticket could come away with an awfully sweet payoff. The Jackpot 6 is one of four wagers on the program that come with a reduced 16% takeout rate. The others are the Hi-5, which like the Jackpot 6 is a 10-cent minimum bet; the 50-cent Pick 5; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which has a $25,000-guaranteed pool. To give an example of what the reduced takeout really means, last Saturday nights Hi-5 saw the 34-1 Cosmos winning and the 19-1 Im Confident checking in second, followed home by the 7-5 Art Genta, 14-1 Chewy Baca and 6-1 Toucam Sam, triggering a $5,600 payoff for each winning 10-cent ticket. Using the normal takeout rate, it would have paid an even $5,000, a difference of $600 to each winning ticket holder. Thats not just numbers, but real dollars. Taking a closer look at the Jackpot 6, the wager finds 70% of the net pool paying out to tickets with the most winners, with 30% of the net pool designated for the carryover. If there is one unique ticket selecting six winners, the entire pool and the carryover is paid to the holder of the ticket. If that should happen Saturday night, they would receive the entire net pool and a $53142 bonus. With the 10-cent minimum, putting together healthy-sized tickets without spending a lot of money makes the Jackpot 6 even more attractive. Jump right in, the pool is going to be fine. Sire Stakes, Distaff Open have the spotlight A $10,000 California Sire Stakes for 4-year-old pacing males and a $6,000 Open Pace for fillies and mares are the main events on Saturday nights Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo. A 14-race card is on tap and things get underway at 6:10 p.m. The Sire Stakes is scheduled as the fifth event on the evening, immediately followed by the Distaff Open in the sixth-race slot. King Of The Crop, Rikybrnthegaragdwn and Laissez Moi Passer are all multiple trophy earners who figure to have their share of backers in the Sire Stakes. King Of The Crop was third in the most recent stakes clash for this group back on January 17 and is coming into this assignment off back-to-back conditioned scores. The Little Steven homebred carries the banner of Frank Nevarez with Gordie Graham training and Bruce Clarke guiding from the cozy rail slot. He established his lifetime mark of 1:53 2/5 on February 20 and came right back with another sharp tally last weekend. Rikybrnthegaragdwn is a son of Living It Up out of the top racemare and producer Sports Bra who races for Maryann Plano and Nikki Hudson with Luke Plano reining and training. His most recent victory came in the February 7 Shelly Goudreau, where he romped home and established a new mark with his 1:52 4/5 tour of the oval. Laissez Moi Passer was posing for pictures after upsetting his peers in the most recent Sire Stakes for this group in January. Sal and Georgette Wenceslao own the son of Disco Devil with Sal the conditioner and Williams Hernandez in his usual spot in the sulky. Completing the field are Lil Steve Oneder with Chip Lackey at the controls; Tony Cheesecake, who will have the services of James Kennedy; and Full Moon Rising, who leaves from the outside post with Dave Siegel handling the lines. By Mark Ratzky, Publicity Cal Expo Harness

Vanessa Gilliam is the owner of the promising 3-year-old pacing colt Hi Hos Little Rev, the Bob Johnson trainee who was runner-up in the first stakes race for his division earlier this month and will suit up once again in Saturday nights harness racing opener. She is also the operator of Second Wind Rescue, Inc., doing a terrific job giving horses the second chance they deserve. I didn't grow up with horses, Vanessa explained. I was a competitive volleyball player, and my parents encouraged me to pursue athletics instead of equines, because they felt horses were not only dangerous, but wouldnt pay for college. Gilliam ended up playing college volleyball for five years and for a short period some professional volleyball in Greece, eventually buying her first horse in 2007. It was a 4- year-old Overo APHA mare, she related. In March of 2008, I starting rescuing by purchasing three unbroken 2 year olds Quarter Horse type horses for $150 apiece. Fast forward to the summer of 2010, when Vanessa met veterinarian Dr. Audrey Clifton in Paso Robles at a restaurant where she was working a couple of nights a week. She vacations at Lake Nacimento every summer with her family. We got to talking about our occupations and instantly become friends. She offered to help me with dental work and stock me with essential medical supplies at cost when she was down here. We stayed in touch and I went up to Cal Expo to visit her in 2011. During my visit, I got to jog two horses around the track on a Saturday morning and I was hooked! Later that year she called me to see if I had room for three pregnant mares at my ranch. I was able to take two of them, Prettylittlerebel and Sharps and Flats. Both mares were bred to Hi Ho Silverheels. Hi Ho's Little Rev, who is out of Prettylittlerebel, was born at Second Wind Rescue, Inc. in 2012. When he was getting close to turning 2, Gilliam contacted Clifton to help her get the ball rolling with his harness training. Audrey has been very instrumental in making this journey possible, Vanessa noted. She got him a spot in Leon Smith's barn for the first half of training. With all the groundwork I did with him at my place, Rev was ground driven his first day there and hooked up to a cart by the end of the week. It also goes to show the great minds that this breed possesses. Being part of this process has been a huge learning experience which will help me better understand the industry and also the horses that are involved. It's stressful being a racehorse owner, but I'm enjoying the excitement of the journey. As for Second Wind, it has been a 501(c)3 non-profit organization since 2011. Vanessa has had 62 horses, representing 20 different breeds, come through the rescue facility over the last seven years. After owning a few Standardbreds, she noted, I'd put them as one of my top three favorite breeds, along with Friesians and Mustangs. In addition, she currently owns a cleaning business called Mo Betta Cleaning Services, waits tables a couple nights a week, and runs the rescue. I care for 15 horses, four llamas, two sheep, two goats, a potbelly pig, three dogs, two cats, nine chickens and 14 ducks, pretty much all by myself. On occasion, I have volunteers here helping with ranch chores and training. Our goal at Second Wind is to take unwanted, abused, and/or neglected horses, get them healthy, add value to them with training, and adopt them out to forever homes. Noble work, indeed. Introducing Second Wind Rescue Open Pace, sophomore Sire Stakes in spotlight An Open Pace that rematches St Lads Lotto and China King and a $10,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing colts get the marquee treatment Saturday night at Cal Expo. The Sire Stakes goes as the first and the Open Pace as the fourth event on a 14-race card that is scheduled to get underway at 6:10 p.m. Four wagers are offered at a reduced 16% takeout rate, including the Pick 4 that comes with a $30,000-guaranteed gross pool. Looking at the Sire Stakes, Urungoodhands, a powerful winner of the first added-money event for the 3-year-old males pacers; and Hi Hos Little Rev, his most immediate victim that evening, loom the major players. Uringoodhands is a homebred son of Kents On Nuke who campaigns for Mark Anderson, is trained by Gordie Graham and will once again have the services of James Kennedy.After finishing second in his debut, the dark-hued performer suited up for the first stakes engagement for the division two weeks ago. He sat a tracking trip for Kennedy, exploded off the final bend and won going away by three lengths in a 1:57 1/5 mile. Hi Hos Little Rev is a son of Hi Ho Silverheels who is owned by Vanessa Gilliam with Bob Johnson the conditioner and Mooney Svendsen in his usual position in the sulky. He was a powerful winner of his second trip to the post on January 4, then had to settle for second in the aforementioned January 17 Sire Stakes after looming large at midstretch. Racing will be conducted this week on Friday and Saturday nights, with no racing on Super Bowl Sunday, February 1. Next week, there will be Saturday and Sunday night programs, February 7 and 8. Following that, there will be back-to-back three-night weeks with cards on Friday through Sunday, February 13, 14, 15; and Friday through Sunday, February 20, 21, 22. Mark Ratzky

The first Sire Stakes of the meeting saw King Of The Crop picking up right where he left off during the spring, posing for pictures as he added another harness racing trophy to the mantle for his owner/breeder Frank Nevarez. The 3-year-old pacing son of Little Steven, who is now conditioned by Gordie Graham, was driven for the first time in evening action by Bruce Clarke and got the job done in game, first-over fashion despite making his initial start since late June at Balmoral Park. I got King Of The Crop at the end of August, Graham informed. Hes a nice, quiet and laid back horse with a touch of class. I was able to get two qualifiers into him and then he was going to make a start before the stakes, but he had a little mucus and we had to scratch. Despite missing a start that could have had him nice and tight for the stakes engagement, King Of The Crop did not disappoint his many backers while prevailing by a length over Tony Cheesecake in last weeks stakes clash. I was actually surprised so many horses fired out of there at the start, but the quarter was only :29, Gordie said. Bruce said he didnt want to go to the front, so he was pretty patient with him in the early going. It all worked out. Graham, who currently has 10 performers for Nevarez, is looking ahead with this pacer and likes what he sees. There are three more Sire Stakes races, but theyre somewhat spread out so well be racing him sparingly. I think he could turn out to be a very nice horse down the road. In the meantime, there are three more big-money races for this division to be contested, and theres no question the one they have to beat. Open Pace brings out St Lads Lotto St Lads Lotto, who has rattled off three straight victories while steadily working his way up the class ladder, puts that streak on the line in Saturday nights $6,000 Open Pace at Cal Expo. A 12-race card is on tap with first post set for 6:10. A reminder that the trotters and pacers are now in action on Saturday and Sunday nights, with Friday racing being added to the schedule beginning on December 26. St Lad Lotto is a 4-year-old Ontario-bred son of Stonebridge Regal who carries the banner of Ferne and Jack Frydman, is conditioned by Mark Winnacott and will have Steve Wiseman at the controls while doing his work from the No. 6 slot in a field of 10. A 1:52 winner last season at Mohawk, the dark-hued performer had to settle for minor awards in his first two starts at this meet, but has had his picture taken three times in a row since. The most recent came two weeks ago when he rallied from last to get the job done over a sloppy track with Wiseman giving directions. Set to line up against the razor-sharp Winnacott trainee are Paydaze on the Way; Stable Eyes; China King; Mar Dream; P H Jackpot; No Gin; Rusty Skip; Cenalta Power; and A Real Miracle. Cenelta Power captured the November 15 Open Pace in an 11-1 upset in his local debut. The Alberta invader is owned, trained and driven by Ryan Grundy. He sat a tracking trip in last months score and ignited when it counted to be up by a half-length that evening for his fifth score on the season. There are now four wagers here each night that feature a reduced 16% takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5; the Jackpot 6: the Pick 4 and the Hi-5 on the nitecap. By Mark Ratzky, publicity Cal Expo Harness

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